Norm Kelly: deputy mayor of the internet

Norm Kelly: deputy mayor of the internet

Before being named deputy mayor over the summer, Scarborough city councillor Norm Kelly was best known for saying something dumb about climate change. And yet somehow, in the months since Rob Ford’s ever-worsening crack scandal thrust Kelly into the role of acting mayor, he has emerged as the perfect embodiment of a caretaker. He wasn’t elected to the position, but he’s kind, inoffensive and just goofy enough to dissipate some of the stale dorm-room funk of Ford’s reign.

One remarkable thing about Kelly’s rise to prominence is the extent to which it has been aided by social media. For instance, take a look at the video above. It was released on YouTube a few days ago to promote a mass LGBT wedding at Casa Loma, which is being planned as part of this year’s World Pride celebrations. It’s the type of thing almost any mayor of a progressive city would do, but after years of veiled homophobia from Ford it’s genuinely heartwarming—even newsworthy.

But where Kelly’s new persona truly lives and breathes is Twitter, where he or his staffers churn out a constant stream of well-intended civic information mixed with memes and non sequiturs. The effect is nothing like the stiff, robot-like voice used by Rob Ford’s Twitter minder, which is part of what makes it great. Here’s a quick tour of the weird world of @DMayorKelly.

Light the lights

If deputy mayor Kelly’s Twitter account has a recurring theme, it’s city hall’s exterior lights. They can change colours on demand, and it seems as though Kelly has been exerting his newfound influence to make sure their hues are always topical. This borders on obsession. Observe:

Anyone remember Atari?

If we can infer anything else about the deputy mayor from his Twitter feed, it’s that he has a soft spot for pre-1990s video-game culture.

Hitler died this day

As context for the following tweets, it may be helpful to know that Kelly was a historian before he got into politics. Even so, the deputy mayor’s throwback tweets often have an oddball touch.

And the usual

Of course, the majority of Kelly’s tweets are just the usual bread and butter of municipal politicians. He gives periodic pothole updates…

…and helps people with their problems.

(Unlike Ford, though, he’s happy to let to 311 take care of the issue, rather than enlisting a senior civil servant to inspect the hole personally.)

Toronto wouldn’t necessarily vote for a mayor like Kelly, but the man has found his moment. We suspect there are many who will miss him when his stint at the head of the city is over.